Under the Cocoanuts, Lake Worth Lagoon

Last week, I told my mother that my husband Ed and I were planning on taking the trawler from Stuart to Fort Lauderdale down the Intracoastal Waterway, and that I was most excited about passing through the Lake Worth Lagoon: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/southflorida/regions/lake-worth-lagoon/

“Do you have some history for me?” I asked.

She ran upstairs returning with a little booklet entitled “Under the Cocoanuts, Lake Worth, Dade County, Florida, by Porter and Potter, Real Estate Agents, 1893.”  Mom said her friend and fellow historian, Mrs. Marjorie Watts Nelson, had gifted a copy of the famous little book and that it was cherished.

I carefully looked through it and understood why…

Today, I would like to share this historic booklet. I believe pages 15 and 19 are missing, but it remains a priceless read. The beautiful artwork was created by George Wells Potter, of Porter and Potter, a star citizen and gifted artist whose drawings remain an outstanding record of the day.

Enjoy!

http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/george-wells-potter

 

How Much Water Has Flowed Backwards From C-44 to Lake O?

My recent post about “Holding Lake Okeechobee’s Algae at Bay” got a lot of responses with a few questioning whether the algae bloom in Lake O off Port Mayaca was caused by the waters of C-44 flowing back into the lake.

(https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2019/08/19/holding-lake-okeechobees-algae-at-bay/comment-page-1/)

~A valid question.

I do not know the answer to this question, but I do know flights over the C-44 canal in 2019 have shown no visible algae blooms, but many in the lake with some right off Port Mayaca. Nonetheless, we know the  C-44 is full of nutrient pollution.

Today I want to share a chart from my brother Todd Thurlow’s website http://eyeonlakeo.com/ as well as our back and forth on the issue of how much water has been put into Lake Okeechobee from C-44 so far this year rather than going into the St Lucie River. The ACOE can flow C-44 flow both ways…

Be sure to read “Summary of Query Results” below for the answer.

Todd: Jacqui, I changed my DBKey on my daily spreadsheet to S-308 just to see what it would spit out.  See below.  It looks like S-308 has sent a net 17billion gallons of C-44 basin water (over 54,000 AF) into Lake O this year.  I am pretty sure that means we get a “free” 17billion gallons in our direction before it is considered “Lake Water”.

Jacqui: Todd did the ACOE start sending the C-44 canal water back to Lake O May 29th? Looking at the chart this is what I see. 

Todd: There has been little flows all year as can be seen on the chart too but the big flows started on May 13 at -2042cfs.  There was a pause between June 4 and July 30.  Then is started again with a few days off here and there.  Here is the data that is summarized in that chart.

The May 29 date that you might see (its actually May 20) is where the “Cumulative Total Discharge” graph crosses the zero axis?  That is where the net flows for the year were back to zero.  In other words, it took from May 13 to May 20, 8 days of westward flow, to cancel out all of the net eastward flow for the year.

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 can run east to the St. Lucie or west to Lake Okeechobee.

These DEP canal summaries are no longer available on-line but remain good references even though written in 2001.

 

 

Holding Lake Okeechobee’s Algae at Bay

My husband, Ed, was able to fly the Baron yesterday. As the plane has been in service, we have not taken photos of Lake Okeechobee or the St Lucie River from a higher altitude in almost two months.

Because the satellite images have been showing Lake Okeechobee’s bloom lessening, I wasn’t sure what Ed would find. Well, he found a large blue-green algae bloom right outside the gates of Port Mayaca at S-308.

http://eyeonlakeo.com/NCCOS%20HAB%20Images/index.html via Todd Thurlow

On his way back to Stuart, he also took pictures of the St Lucie Inlet showing plentiful seagrass recovery near the Sandbar at the confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, the ocean/river looking blue and inviting ~ not like the black coffee sediment and toxic nutrient-filled discharges seen recently in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

I am thankful to the ACOE and all involved for this summer’s reprieve. The Saint Lucie River really needed it!

We must keep in mind that with all of the recent rain, of course, Lake Okeechobee is rising. Today lake is at 12.99 feet. Hopefully, in the coming and most active months of hurricane season, there will not be a tropical system that could rapidly increase the lake level. In years past hurricanes have brought as much as three or four feet. There are many factors, but usually, the ACOE starts releasing at 15.5 feet to protect the Herbert Hoover Dike’s integrity and those living south and in the shadow of our diked lake.

Humans may have figured out how to “control” the state’s water, but Mother Nature holds the final card.

SFWMD 8-19-19

 

LAKE OKEECHOBEE AT PORT MAYACA AND LAKE O’S N.E. RIM SHOWING ALAGE BLOOM. IF S-308 were open, this bloom and freshwater that sustains blooms would be pouring into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Photos by Ed Lippisch 3-18-19.

Lake O

N.E. Lake Okeechobee and Rim Canal

Boat tracks through algae bloom off Port Mayaca

 

Looking toward Lake Okeechobee at S-80, A.K.A. “The Seven Gates of Hell.” These gates can be opened by the ACOEO to discharge water from Lake O into the St Lucie River.  Photo Ed Lippisch 8-18-19.

C-44 Canal connects Lake Okeechobee to St Lucie River, photo Ed Lippisch 8-18-19

 

ST LUCIE RIVER/INDIAN RIVER LAGOON AT ST. LUCIE INLET showing nearshore reefs, blue waters, and recovering seagrasses ~even with high local rains and discharges from canals C-23, and C-24. This area between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point was once considered the most bio-diverse in North America. This year, 2019, there have been no discharges from Lake Okeechobee allowing the area to begin to recover from years of destructive discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

St Lucie Inlet at the confluence of SLR/IRL, #Clean2019

Darker shades are recovering seagrasses!

Flight Aware Track:

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image and connected to Lake Okeechobee.

Historic Phytogeography of South Florida with Present Day Features

 Phy·to·ge·og·ra·phythe branch of botany that deals with the geographical distribution of plants.

Historic Phytogeography of South Florida with Present Day SFWMD Features, 2019, by Lexie Hoffart & Nichole Miller, Geographers, SFMWD.

It started with a request, an idea, and over many months materialized with the guidance of  Tia Barnett, Governing Board and Executive Services, and Dr. Ken Chen, Supervisor, Geospatial Mapping Services Unit, Information Technology Bureau, SFMWD.

The request: “Could we create an educational map blending pre-drainage natural features such as water flow, plants, and forests with the modern sixteen county map we use for today’s SFWMD’s “Facilities and Infrastructure”?

Dr. Chen excitedly assigned two young modern-day cartographers/geographers to the task: Ms. Lexie Hoffart and Ms. Nicole Miller.

Their research began with an overlay of the famous 1913 Phytogeographic Map of the Original Florida Everglades by John Harshberger. Then they “moved north” to research the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee using the 1882 Communications Steamboat Map by W.G. Williamson and Q.A. Gilmore of the USACE.

Modern publications were studied as well: a 2017 article by Michael A. Volk, UF, entitled “Florida Land Use and Land Cover Changes in the Past 100 Years:” also Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, 2011 by Christopher W. McVoy. All this and more was taken into account as an overlay on a modern SFWMD map of present-day facilities and infrastructure including modern estimates of populations.

Wow! What does the old adage say? “The only constant is change!” May understanding the past help us to be better stewards of the future…

The outcome,  a document rich in revelation past and present. Thank you, Lexie and Nichole!

*If you’d like a high-resolution copy or hard copy of this map, please email me at jthurlowlippisch@sfwmd.gov.
You can also go to this link. It is the last map: https://sfwmd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MinimalGallery/index.html?appid=1facf32f199240b49a326432258c102f

 

Historic Phytogeography of South Florida with Present Day SFWMD Features Map, Lexie Hoffart & Nicole Miller, SFWMD 2019
Lexie Hoffart, JTL, and Nicole Miller at SFWMD where they were recognized yesterday for their work!

Seagrasses? Algae? Who Wins?

The Crossroads off Sewall’s Point in the confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. In 2019, seagrasses can be seen returning to an area that was post-2013, 2016, and 2018  a desert of sand. 8-3-19 photos by Scott Kuhns.

On August 3rd, I posted the above aerial noting the return of visible recovering seagrasses since the ACOE stopped discharging from Lake Okeechobee.

One of my readers wrote: “Most is not true seagrass, some algae’s, discolored sand. A little shoal grass here and there. It’s gonna take a few years of no discharges.”

And this is true. Seagrass is growing back, but right alongside, or even on the algae itself, is something else. A type of dark green, slimy-algae covering the grasses. I don’t remember it like this before…

We are living in a time of over-nitrification. Too much Phosphorus and Nitrogen drains off the land into the estuary feeding algae of all kinds as they compete for dominance.

And we decide who wins:

~A great video shared by my brother Todd covering the story of all types of algae and cyanobacteria.

 

8-3-19 Scott Kuhns what do you see?
8-3-19 Scott Kuhns looks back towards Stuart from St Lucie Inlet area. Area to right was once famous for its rich seagrass beds.

I have seen the microalgae growing back on our seagrasses in the SLR/IRL, and it has been here for years; it is just getting more dominant. I have not photographed as doing so requires a protected camera. Thus I am sharing these photos that in some ways resemble our beds.

Seagrass growing with microalgae: photo SeaGrant: https://seagrant.noaa.gov/News/Article/ArtMID/1660/ArticleID/357/Quantifying-Nitrogen-in-Shellfish-Helps-Planning-Efforts-on-Cape-Cod-
Example of seagrass and microalgae USGS public domain. https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/macroalgae-seagrass-and-litter-oh-my

A Summer Day Without Lake Okeechobee Discharges, 2019

7-28-19

Today,  Ed and I document a summer day along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon without Lake Okeechobee discharges. ACOE, we are grateful! J&E

The Crossroads between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point, the confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Seagrasses returning…
Hutchinson Island south of the St Lucie Inlet, home of the northern reefs. Color- blue not brown!
The St Lucie Inlet looking beautiful.
Sailfish Point at the St. Lucie Inlet, blue and turquoise meet.
Sailfish Point along the ocean with Sailfish Flats and Sewall’s Point in background.
Sailfish Flats east of Hutchinson Island and the Atlantic Ocean. Ed and I could not fly over IRL here due to air traffic, so I could not get up close pictures. But the color certainly looks better!
Turquoise ocean but lots of sargassum weed! Turtles and manatees were present.
Just north of Martin County, St Lucie County’s Hutchinson Island beaches with super density Nettles Island visible in a blue looking Indian River Lagoon.
Hutchinson Island and IRL in St Lucie County
Indian River Lagoon with good visibility as discharge water is not being pushed up north through the IRL in Martin County.
IRL St Lucie County, good visibility and some seagrasses.
IRL St Lucie County looking to the Savannas.
A clearer IRL due to lack of discharges from Lake O. The most suspended sediment comes into the SLR/IRL from Lake O. St Lucie County. As I said earlier the tower would not allow Ed and I to fly over the S. IRL in Martin County due to air traffic. We will have to get it another time.
IRL near St Lucie Power Plant
Nettles Island
Back south, looking over Indian Riverside Park and the Penninsula of Sewall’s Point. IRL on left. St Lucie River on right. St Lucie Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean in distance.
St Lucie River, Langford Landings docks, with Roosevelt Bridge and Stuart in distance.

 

St Lucie River, west side of Sewall’s Point
Wide St Lucie, Roosevelt Bridge, Rio, and Stuart.
Wide St Lucie looking west towards Lake Okeechobee.
Ed and Jacqui -seven years older since the first “lost summer” of photographing in  2013 ~never giving up!
The Super Cub!

 

Army Corps of Engineers’ February 2019 operational change press release for Lake Okeechobee and the Estuaries. This operational decision continues to affect operations this summer: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1764322/corps-takes-action-to-lower-lake-okeechobee-in-advance-of-wet-season/